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Popping the Kids in the Hall’s Vegas cherry

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The Kids in the Hall will perform at The Comedy Festival 2008 in Las Vegas.

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Mark McKinney on the Kids in the Hall reunion

Vegas has long had a taste for established comedians. The Seinfelds and the Sammys have always had room at the table; Ellen is a welcome guest, too. Even Danny Gans manages to hold onto a theater on the Strip. But does a city where mainstream appeal is a hallmark of success have an appetite for alternative comedy? The Kids in the Hall are about to find out.

This Friday, the Canadian comedy sketch group, which enjoyed some mainstream success via shows on CBS and HBO in the early ‘90s, is performing in Vegas for the first time as part of the fourth annual Comedy Festival at Caesars Palace. If the Kids have it their way, the show may not be group's last Vegas gig. After reuniting earlier this year, the sketch vets are searching for a place to perform regularly without having to travel extensively, a publicist for the group said. Hmmm, we know somewhere like that. It’s called the Strip.

Kids in the Hall comedian Mark McKinney

"We're trying to finding a way of performing live that won't require us to chop off three or four continuous months of a year because that's really hard," Kids in the Hall comedian Mark McKinney said. "So we're sort of sniffing around for an opportunity to do that somewhere."

While The Kids have reunited twice before for tours that showcased older sketches, this time is different. The material is completely new – it's the first time the group has written sketches together extensively since it unofficially disbanded after shooting Brain Candy in 1996.

The new material includes the skit "Car Bangers," one of the few video sketches released by the Kids since their television show ended in 1995. McKinney says he didn’t watch Kids in the Hall when it first aired and only began watching it about four years ago with his son. "I think he thinks some of it is funny," McKinney said, but added that they prefer to watch "Saturday Night Live" together because it's "neutral territory."

The Kids in the Hall - from YouTube.com

For McKinney the comedic bond shared by the group – as well overcoming past grievances with each other – has made this most recent reunion something special.

"This is unique. I think you have to meet when you're really young and have a common bond and really know each other really, really well to have the kind of comedy shorthand that we've got. This group is my family.

"It can be difficult because people have thin skins, but less so now. There's less stomping off and screaming at each other. We used to be pretty loud arguers. Now, I know when to listen when one of the other Kids suggests something," he said. "And I have a little less ego now so it makes it go down smoother."

Car Bangers by The Kids in the Hall - from YouTube.com

The writers' strike that began at the end of 2007 had an interesting upside for The Kids. It gave the group an opportunity to start working together in earnest, freeing everyone up from prior obligations, so they had time to develop new sketches. With an aim at creating enough material for an entirely new show, The Kids gave themselves only a week to write 90-minutes of sketch comedy and followed it up with a series of small gigs at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angels this February to practice.

Much of that same material will make an appearance at The Comedy Festival, sponsored by TBS, at Caesars Palace, as Vegas takes in The Kids for the first time, and vice versa.

"I don't know if this is something we could have done as a young troupe. The aura was of Sammy and Frank Sinatra," McKinney said. "But I know now it's really just kind of an entertainment Mecca just like New York is."

That’s right, Mike. We can see it on the press releases now.

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Scott Den Herder

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